FAA begins investigation of Boeing 787 production shortfalls

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has begun investigating Boeing’s production issues at its North Charleston, South Carolina plant after the manufacturer had forcibly grounded eight 787 Dreamliners due to the risk of structural failure.

The issue first broke light in late-August 2020, as it appeared that the aft fuselage section of some 787s would not be able to withstand maximum stress, making it more prone to a structural failure whilst in the air. Boeing proceeded to ground eight Dreamliners, including those of Air Canada (ADH2), Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY), and United Airlines.

However, more airlines have apparently joined the list with grounded 787s, including the launch customer of the type All Nippon Airways as well as Air Europa, Etihad Airways, and Norwegian Air Shuttle, reported the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.

The FAA is focusing on two issues: shims that fill gaps between separate sections of the fuselage upon assembly and the smoothness of the area of the inner fuselage skin. While individually these two problems do not pose much danger, when the shims are incorrectly manufactured and the inner fuselage skin does not meet proper specifications at the same place, it results in the aircraft not meeting limit load requirements.

An internal memo, viewed by the Wall Street Journal, cited the fact that Boeing told the FAA that parts produced in North Charleston did not meet Boeing’s design and manufacturing standards.

“It is too early to speculate about the nature or extent of any proposed Airworthiness Directives that might arise from the agency’s investigation,” stated the FAA.

The South Carolina site, where Boeing produces parts and assembles the 787 Dreamliner. has been under continuous scrutiny due to its quality control lapses throughout its history, including the newest issue that affects the aft fuselage.


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